The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has warned Lagos State Government against accrediting private hospitals for the management of COVID-19 in the state.
Dr Saliu Oseni and Dr Ramon Moronkola, the Lagos State Chairman and Secretary of the association respectively, gave the warning on Friday in Lagos.
Oseni and Moronkola, in a joint statement, said that the treatment of COVID-19 patients in the private hospitals might likely be the missing link to the worsening community transmission currently occurring in the state.
According to them, the private hospitals do not have capacity for infection control and surveillance might be limited, thus exacerbating community transmission of COVID-19 infection.
“The association also noted with concern, a document from the Lagos State Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA), which, among other things, plan to accredit private hospitals for the management of COVID-19.
“We are concerned that the state government may have started yielding to the pressures from business concerns who may see this pandemic as a business opportunity, rather than the public health emergency that it is,” the NMA leaders said.
They urged the state government to rescind its position, via HEFAMAA, to use the private hospital sector to manage COVID-19 patients.
“It is still more prudent for any suspected case to be isolated in a holding area within the private hospital, while the appropriate government authority is contacted immediately.
“The association will resist any attempt at commercialising the management of this infection as seen in some private health facilities.
“We suggest that the government legislate and criminalise the act of resisting isolation by COVID-19 positive patients in public facilities, as this action has been implicated in jeopardising the efforts of containment.
“We appeal that the public isolation centres should be made conducive for all calibre of patients,” the association chairman and secretary said.
They appealed to the state government to continue to expand the capacity of the isolation centres with the aim to strategically locate them fairly in different parts of the state.
The NMA leaders also urged the government to increase the capacity of the holding areas where suspected symptomatic patients could be kept while awaiting test result for proper supervision.
The association maintained that the introduction of house-to-house testing was a positive development, especially as the state had entered the phase of community transmission.
“Though, there is continued concern about the capacity and readiness of the government to speedily scale this up,” Oseni and Moronkola said.
They commended the state government for increasing the testing capacity for COVID-19, adding that it had helped identify more cases and potential contacts.